Cork pub 'surprised' after former employee claims he quit after being told not to speak Irish

The management of a Cork pub which allegedly banned a Gaeilgeoir from speaking as Gaelige while he worked there has responded to claims he made on RTÉ radio.

Cormac Ó Bruic on Saol o Dheas

In a statement, the Flying Enterprise said they were "surprised by the comments attributed to our former employee Cormac Ó Bruic" and emphasised that "this matter is certainly not about the Irish language".

"We currently employ up to seventy people and of them there are six diffeent nationalities who all speak their native language. They respect that while at work the most sensible and practical language to speak is English," they said.

"Cormac fully understands that this is a HR matter which was been dealt with by our external HR company and him. We wish to clarify that Cormac was not fired or dismissed not did we intendto fire or dismiss Cormac in this regard. 

"However while Cormac did initially exgage with the HR process he decided to leave before the process was concluded.

As Ó Bruic left before the HR process was completed, they said it would be "unfair" to him if they were to discuss the matter publically.

O'Bruic, from an Fheothanach in Corca Dhuibne, made the claims on RTE Raidió na Gaeltachta yesterday.

“He was shouting at me and banging on the table, because I stood up to him and told him I wasn’t going to stop. He told me then to go back to work, but I told him that I couldn’t,” he said on the Saol o Dheas programme.

“I couldn’t go back working for that man after him saying that.”

He said the customers had enjoyed hearing a young person speaking the Irish language.

“Lots of customers would tell us that it was lovely to hear the language spoken, especially to hear young people using it in Cork,” he said.

In a letter to Cormac, his employer said he had had complaints from customers who said they couldn’t understand the staff, but Cormac stated that he doubted customers couldn’t understand him because he spoke English in the pub as well.

Ó Bruic chose to leave the comany following this.

"In my mind I have to stand up for the language, I love it and that there are still people who don’t want to hear the language at all, I can’t understand it."

Conradh na Gaeilge believes Ó Bruic has been wronged by the Flying Enterprise.

"Conradh na Gaeilge believes that it is disappointing that someone from the Gaeltacht felt that he have to give up his job as a result of speaking Irish. Cormac Ó Bruic’s case highlights the urgent need to include an Irish-language provision in the relevant legislation to protect the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community from discrimination on the grounds of language in the workplace due to speaking the first official language of the state.

"It’s unfortunate that a company is prohibiting an employee to deal with the public in an official language of the state, if that is their wish."

The organisation is calling on the management of The Flying Enterprise to ensure no employees are prohibited from using either of the two official languages of Ireland in the workplace in the future, and strongly supports Cormac Ó Bruic for the stand he took when warned against speaking Irish in the pub.

"In this day and age, it is hard to believe that anyone would even doubt an employee’s right to speak the first official language of Ireland, in Ireland, without the threat of being dismissed from their job for doing so," said Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge.

"The relevant legislation needs to be amended – be that the Employment Equality Act or the Official Languages Act or other legislation – to safeguard each employee’s right to use Irish in the workplace and to authorise The Language Commissioner to investigate any discrimination such as that in the Ó Bruic case.

"Conradh na Gaeilge will put the matter of protecting the right to use Irish in the workplace before the members of the Oireachtas this autumn."

Listen to Cormac Ó Bruic on Raidió na Gaeltachta HERE


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